China, China – Immanuel Hsu

In the past decade if not more, China has become a huge talking point. It has become in the words of a friend ‘flavour of the month’.

Of the earlier interests in the China was the seminal classic written by the deceased Immanuel Hsu – The rise of modern China. Last month, I read the Chinese version. It was privilege to have read the 6th edition (published in 2000, 5 years before his death). His views of Chinese & non-Chinese interaction was optimistic (as inferred from his preface).

One interesting point was that Britain, in 1860,  actually changed from a neutral stance to one supporting the Qing dynasty. The rationale was that a stable government would enable trade. Thus in a sense, the narrative of final stage imperial China completely at the end of a huge negative stick held by the West would be exaggerating to say the least. Moreover, as an aside, if one studies the tributary pressures that prior Chinese dynasties put on places like Korea then the overall picture becomes that much more nuanced…


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